There are two reasons why I want to write a quick Bangkok post before the main focus of the weekend has even started.
We are here, back where Joshua had his most exciting weekend of football ever last year, where out of nowhere, he and his Under 8’s Asia Pacific Soccer Schools team took the tournament by surprise and won the Under 8’s Cup in more dramatic moments than I think we can bear again.
Firstly, we were nearly not here. We decided a few months ago that all 4 of us would come this year to support Josh and to have a nice weekend in Bangkok together. Last year it was just Joshua and I. Dan had already done a lot of Asian travel for his job, I had done none, we didn’t know how appropriate the trip would be for Eden who was 2.5 at the time so as a result, it was just the two of us. Dan couldn’t believe the drama and glory moments that he missed and wasn’t going to miss out this year! However, there have been a lot of political protests going on in Bangkok over the last few weeks. They turned more violent last weekend so the tournament was in jeopardy as obviously nothing was worth risking the safety of all the kids and families who were due to fly in. We had daily updates all week but the tensions seem to have calmed down, mainly due to the King’s birthday this weekend so the protesters are taking a break! They can get back to it on Monday when we’ve gone! So thank goodness, the tournament is going ahead. We did cancel the half day tour we had booked for this afternoon as that would have taken us a bit too close to the sensitive areas but we had a lovely day by the pool and in the shopping mall next door to the hotel so things weren’t too bad!
The second point I wanted to isolate before we know how the boys are going to do this year, is just how damn proud we are of Joshua and his perseverance over the last few weeks. Last year, where the other age categories for his club had an A, B and sometimes C team, the Under 8’s were just one team as there were far fewer of them here so there were no stresses of which team people were going to be picked for. The squad has grown a lot over the last year and this tournament has proven to be very popular, so this year there are three teams in Joshua’s age group. In Hong Kong he plays in the Under 9’s squad now but due to the weird age cut off’s made by the tournament hosts, all the Under 9’s squad are still classified in the Under 8’s tournament here in Bangkok. The C team in Bangkok is all the 2006 boys and the 2005 boys from the normal Under 9’s squad are split into the A and B team. Joshua has been in the B team for most of the last year. He pushes hard but is up against some other great boys who also play in his position. The Coaches have always said that there is very little to tell the A and B team apart but still, everyone wants to be in the A team.
A few weeks ago, when Joshua and his B team boys won the Cup in the first Under 9’s Hong Kong Junior Football League tournament of the season and the A team got knocked out in the semi-final, the Coaches admitted that they had to pay very close attention in the weeks leading up to Bangkok as a lot of the B team were pushing hard for A team places.
Joshua knuckled down, he knew he was being watched carefully, he got on with it, has had a fantastic last week of training, scored some great goals and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. The coaches said they were going to make the boys wait until tomorrow before revealing the teams but when we ran into the Head Coach in the hotel lobby earlier, he took Josh aside and told him that he’s doing fantastically and he’s made the A team. Josh is acting cool but I know he’s ecstatic. He’s been dying for this. Of course the teams may all get shaken around again many times over the course of the season, but this was the time Josh wanted to be in that A team and he’s done it. That’s why I needed to grab this moment before the tournament kicks off. No matter what happens over the next few days, Joshua has got his victory. He’s our champ.
To win that Cup once was more than we could hope for. To win it twice? … can’t think about it!